My name is Steve Bridgwood, and for the past ten years, I’ve been a full-time wedding photographer covering the whole of the UK and overseas for destination weddings.
I’ve been around photography for as long as I can remember as my dad worked in the industry, starting out as a photographer for the EMI music label before moving on to Royal Doulton the famous pottery manufacturer in my home town of Stoke-on-Trent.
It was somewhat inevitable that I received cameras as a gift while growing up.
After leaving school, I briefly studied A-level photography at college however, during this time, I was far more interested in going out to watch music gigs and getting drunk with my friends, so I dropped out pretty fast.
Without sounding big-headed, I felt that I knew it all anyway.
Fast forward a decade, and I was still spending my time at gigs but this time photographing the local grunge bands. After working in a few different jobs, I finally landed myself a photography role, working for Staffordshire Police as an HQ photographer, which, as you can imagine, was pretty grim and extremely challenging.
However, I learnt a hell of a lot under the guidance of a highly skilled head photographer that really showed me the bones of photography with film, developing and digital work.
After a few years in that role, I realised that I had to be able to explore my creative side and wedding photography was really taking off in the UK.
I could see photographers like Steve Gerrard, Martin Hobby and Ian France doing some really cool and totally original creative wedding photography.
I really knew I wanted to be part of this great industry.
So, after a conversation with my wife that went something like, “I’m packing in work, and I’m going to photograph weddings for a living”, I started on my journey. Thank god she had faith in me!
Here I am now, shooting forty to fifty weddings every year for some really cool couples.
The people I work with just get me! I’m quite full-on with the chat when I talk with couples, in fact, we never really talk about their wedding, more about films and music, stuff like that, but my photography style is really chilled.
My website and social media channels attract these types of couples, and I feel like I have always remained true to my brand and style of photography.
I am always grateful for the opportunity to work with these wedding couples and their families.
I started off with various film cameras and then bought my first digital the Canon 20d. I still think that this is a great camera, given its age. I then moved on to Nikon just because it was a cool pro brand.
I bought loads of APS-C Nikons before finally owning a Nikon D700 which really let me create the type of images I wanted.
I have said this loads of times and still stand by it, the Nikon D700 is one of the most important cameras in the digital world ever developed. I could shoot a wedding on one now, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference compared to modern-day gear.
I naturally progressed to a Nikon D800 before finally moving to the Sony system that gives me everything I need.
I currently shoot with a Sony A9 and a Sony A9II, and for me, the speed of the buffer, the super bright viewfinder, the super-fast focus and reliable eye AF are everything!
Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA – as far back as I can remember, I had always liked a 35mm focal length. Even when I was at college, I had some odd 40mm f/2 manual lens on a Pentax K1000, so I guess its something my eye is just used to; the perfect length, not too wide, not too long and enough each way that you can use your feet to get the frame.
Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 – this lens is just perfect. I know that there will be people out there that aren’t a fan of the Batis range, but for me, it’s light, totally accurate and never misses a beat, plus the colour render from it is great.
The reason I like an 85mm is that it’s a great non-intrusive lens, just long enough not to be noticed but short enough to hold on to the background, even when it’s wide open at 1.8.
Zeiss 18mm f/2.8 – this is my dance floor lens. Teamed up with some flash, you can get some fantastic frames with it, particularly when people are full-on partying on the dance floor.
The 18mm gives me the freedom to be a little carefree as I like to get in the thick of the action. It’s a point-and-shoot lens that never fails me! I have also used it a handful of times for some creative ultra-wide portraits.
With Sony, there isn’t really any other option than going OEM Sony flashes, which I initially did but ended up not liking them so now I use GODOX flashes and triggers.
My camera straps are all custom, and my bag is a Lowepro Pro Runner 350.
Yes, it’s a bit old, but it’s the greatest bag I’ve ever owned, as I can literally fit everything I own in it. I can easily chuck it over my shoulder when I’m on the tube in London or walking around Manchester going between locations.
As for tripods, I never use them. I just don’t like them and never have.
I use Lightroom and Exposure (formally known as Alien Skin Exposure) but don’t really spend too much time in Lightroom as I don’t really overshoot. It’s really just a place where I can cull images and put highlights right. The final full set goes to Exposure, where I apply the final look to the photos.
Samsung s22 Plus – I use this smartphone quite a lot at weddings, along with my super old Fuji x100. The Fuji is great to use on super bright sunny days when there is literally no shade for portraits. It gives a certain look that I love in harsh sun and rock-bottom ISO that I just can’t explain, an almost Stanley Kubrick-type of feel.
I think you’ve got to look at what you can remove in terms of gear more so than what to add. Streamlining your gear gives you more creative freedom.
Find where you shine and build on that, but mostly be as original as you can with your work.
The funniest story that I can share with you is when I was standing with the groomsmen at a wedding I was shooting, having a chat and laughing, and there was a lady playing the violin, unfortunately really badly.
I said to the three groomsmen, “man, the violinist is awful. Is it just me noticing how bad her playing is?”
One of the groomsmen looked at me and said really deadpan, “that’s my wife playing“.